Wall ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

The cheek of this little Blue Tit!  I thought he was building a nest in my house wall but actually he was just helping himself to my cavity wall insulation to feather his nest in a nearby tree!

This week’s Photo Challenge is a great one for me living in the Cotswolds as one of the defining features of our area is the ancient dry stone walling that lines the sides of roads and divides fields.  In the 18th and 19th centuries there was a law passed called ‘The Enclosures Act’, which literally required areas of land to be separated or ‘enclosed’.  In the Cotswolds plentiful supplies of stone meant it was cheaper to enclose the Cotswold fields by walls than to plant hedgerows.  Although there have been stone walls here since Neolithic times most of the walls we see today are from the last 300 years.  But there are some magnificent buildings around which have stood for much longer, including churches, pubs and grand houses.

The ‘Oolitic’ limestone found in the Cotswolds is from the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago,  This was a time when dinosaurs roamed over the earth.   There have been periods when most of the Cotswolds was under water and some fascinating fossils have been found during quarrying for stone.  There is evidence that people have lived and worked in the Cotswolds since prehistoric times, with Iron Age Forts and Neolithic Barrows having been excavated by archeologists.

The Cotswolds is a huge area that stretches over the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.  It is defined by gentle hills, rolling pastures where sheep graze, and deep wooded river valleys.  The stone is of different shades from warm gold to deep grey depending on where it is quarried.  It also has different qualities, the best being used to build some exquisite houses that will stand for hundreds of years.  I have often written about the beautiful unspoilt town of Painswick, which has some of the best preserved Cotswold stone buildings around.  Parts of the church date back to the 1300s and there are holes in one wall reputedly made by cannon balls fired during the English Civil War.

I could go on and on about the beauty and history of the Cotswolds but as this is a photo challenge, I will just add some photos!

Some very old Cotswold stone buildings

Next the beauty to be found in dry styone walls and beyond them.

The next two photos show the walls of the Tower of London during the recent installation called Blood Swept lands and Seas of Red. which I wrote a blog about previously.

And lastly some pictures of walls which appeal to me.  You can read captions by hovering over the photo or read about the wall painting on the ivy covered church here

The Joys of Cornwall

Derelict mine building at Wheal Coates3

Old tin mines stand tall

Telling stories of the past

On Cornish coastline

I recently spent another lovely week in Cornwall. I wanted to be near the sea while still being near Truro for my hubby’s regular dialysis sessions, so I opted for a cottage in St Agnes. St Agnes is a beautiful, unspoilt little town on the North Cornwall coast. It is full of fascinating relics from the days when tin and copper mining was the main industry. It seemed strange to me to see derelict tin mines visible from behind houses and forming the boundary walls of gardens. In fact tin is still produced in St Agnes at the Blue Hills Mine, the only place in the UK that still produces it. St Agnes is an area of outstanding natural beauty and it has been designated a World Heritage Site. I can certainly see why. I just loved the rugged land and seascapes. Even in our state of unfitness we were able to walk some of the coastal path. This leads to sights that can never be appreciated from the road. One of these is Wheal Coates Mine. It is truly amazing when seen from a distance with its three shafts and its spectacular position on the side of the cliffs. In fact the mine goes all the way down to the sea and at high tide you can hear the waves crashing against rocks through a grid in the ruins. It was possible to get into this mine via a large cave at a nearby beach. There is a local legend that says Wheal Coates is haunted by the spirits of the miners who died there. I expect the eerie sounds of the sea account for the legends.
I’ve always been interested in industrial buildings. I guess this is mainly due to my father’s influence as he was a steel man from the age of 13 and he developed in me a passion for ships, bridges and buildings. The other reason could be because of where I grew up. I lived in the Felling, a shipbuilding and mining area in the North of England. I skipped past the railway station and shipyard every day on my way to school and there was a derelict engine house complete with winding gear at the end of our street of 2 up and 2 down back to back miners’ cottages. These were our adventure playgrounds. Children were never allowed to play on the grass or ride bikes in the municipal parks in those days! Parks were for floral displays and grown-ups to walk in and the park warden was fierce.
Being a traditional and romantic sort of person I regret that industrialisation almost destroyed the crafts of blacksmiths, weavers, spinners, millers and grinders. But I find there is great beauty to be found in the derelict buildings, in the machinery that drove the mines and the mills, and in the engines that turned their wheels and moved their goods

Around St Agnes there are beaches, bays and coves with caves where wreckers and smugglers, no doubt, once hid their treasures. We visited a pub reminiscent of Jamaica Inn. The pub is called the Driftwood and it has a fascinating history. It is a 17th century building which in its time has been a warehouse for the tin mines, a ships’ chandlery, and a sail maker’s loft, before becoming a characterful old pub. It is built of Cornish stone and slate and ship’s timbers and spares. Behind one of the fireplaces in the pub there is a tunnel which was uncovered during restoration. It is said that this was the secret escape route for the wreckers and smugglers of the area as it leads all the way to the beach.

The cottage we stayed in was perfect and my joy was complete when my daughter came to stay for a couple of days with my adorable grandson. He just loved the sea and sand, the horses in the paddock and the trampoline in the garden. We took him to Lappa Valley Railway, which is kiddie heaven in my book. Built on the site of yet another ruined mine, there are castles and treehouses and adventure equipment to satisfy any age. There are also 12 steam engines giving rides on trains which Stanley really loved. There is also a boating lake, café, shop and everything you could want for a fun day out. I loved it.
Sadly it will be another year before I can go away again due to the shortage of holiday dialysis spaces around the country. But until then I have my photos to remind me of the fun we had and the beauty of Cornwall. Enjoy!

Cornwall here I Come

I am so thrilled to be going back to Cornwall for a holiday this year. A holiday and travel in general is a rare treat since my hubby started dialysis some years ago. We can only go to an area with a hospital that offers holiday dialysis ~ and has a vacant week. Twice we have been fortunate enough to get holidays in Dorset and I have written about those before.
Last year we travelled to Truro where the general hospital also offers holiday dialysis. Having never explored Cornwall I had great plans of all the places I wanted to see. But my hopes were firmly dashed when the car broke down before we even got to our hotel!
There’s only one thing to do in those circumstances I find ~ write a poem ~ so here it is…

I came for cool, clean, salty air
For cloudless skies and seagulls
I came for peace, tranquillity,
For time to think of only me

I came to stop, to rest, to think
To wander country lanes
I came to taste delicious meals
And sparkling wines to drink

I came this county to explore
Its hillsides, gardens and seashore
‘Til my car broke down it was going so well ~
Now I’m confined to my hotel!

I did manage to visit some tin mines,  the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Minack Theatre once my car was fixed, and you can see photos of them by clicking their links.

Here are some photos I didn’t manage to post…